Archive for the ‘Alyssa in London’ Category


Alyssa: On Being Back…

July 19, 2009

I have been back in the United States for two weeks. The feeling is indescribable, but not so much in a good way. As I prepared for my trip, I came across a graph showing the emotions one goes through when planning, experiencing, and returning from a study abroad experience. It began with intense excitement and happiness as one decides to go, then drops a bit during the preparation due to the forms and fees one experiences, then goes up as departure approaches and the program begins, then drops as the frustration of a new place sets in, then up when one gets comfortable and begins to experience the culture, then down when the reality hits that you must leave. After returning your mood elevates as you get to see your family and everyone is happy you are home.

But after that, it drops. It dips down quite quickly as the people around you lose interest in your stories, you have to go back to work, and then come to the reality that you are flat broke in a place that lacks the same interest as your host city did.

That is exactly where I’m at. Suddenly I’m completely alone in my apartment in a city that doesn’t really fascinate me anymore. I feel as if I’m here for my last semester of school and for no other reason. I feel anxious and uneasy with the lack of excitement I had gotten so used to while abroad.

To try and combat these feelings, I plan on purchasing a guide book for the Twin Cities to ease back into the culture here. Although, I need to wait about a month before I get paid for that to happen. I’m trying to stay busy and creative but it’s proving to be quite difficult. It also doesn’t help that I’ve caught another weird and unexplained sickness that won’t seem to go away.

I’m hoping this is all part of the roller-coaster of emotions I’m supposed to experience as part of a study abroad trip and everything will get back to normal. (what’s truly normal at this point, I don’t know.)

Alyssa: The Last Day

July 3, 2009

It’s my last day in London. The feeling is entirely bittersweet. I love this city and there is an immense amount of things to do and see (some of which I didn’t get to). However, I do miss driving, my family, cable, and living on my own.

Tonight the CAPA program is hosting a Cream Tea event at a hotel near the V&A. I think it’s a great way to round out the last six weeks. Tomorrow I will get onto a plane for about 9 hours back to Minneapolis, then drive another 4 hours back to Sioux Falls for what’s left of the 4th of July.

These past 6 weeks have been incredible and highly life changing and eye opening. I will have to come back in the future, if not just for London, most definitely Paris.


Alyssa: Five Days Left in London

June 30, 2009

Only 5 days left…it’s all gone by so quickly and it has been an incredible experience. I’ve seen and learned so much about British history, design, and the culture itself. I still have quite a few places I want to see and could use another week or two but I only have 5 days left!

Anyway, enough about that. I’m working on my thank you card for my internship site. They have been great. I haven’t really learned much in the technical field of design, but have learned an immense amount international design and British culture. I really don’t want to leave this experience. I feel like I’m just getting into it. The projects they are working on are amazing. Huge clients—Harrods! It’s just great and the atmosphere in the design space is positive and you can really feel they love what they are doing. They are all really intelligent too. Really intellectual conversations about foreign affairs and the British economy and government happen daily. I usually listen quietly and nod along, pretty much just absorbing what they are saying.

I hope I have helped out with the work I’ve been doing and have added to their productivity a bit. I also really appreciate them taking a chance on me. I was the first CAPA intern they have taken on and I hope I have lived up to their expectations.


Alyssa: T-minus Two Weeks and Counting

June 22, 2009

A weekend in Paris and two more weeks in London. As the end draws near, I find myself evaluating my time spent in Europe. I feel as if being an American in Europe is the best way to be, not a tourist or a immigrant trying to be European, but a girl proud of her home culture while feeling at home in Europe.

Throughout the day, I found myself daydreaming about Paris. While I waited for my friend to grab a souvenir, I decided to walk onto a bridge and sketch the Eiffel Tower and the scenery around it. This was by far the highlight of my trip to Paris—the Mona Lisa and Notre Dame were amazing too, but they did not compare to the feeling I got while sitting on the bridge. It was completely inspirational and I could see why so many artists have spent time there in the past. That feeling is still with me and all I can think about is moving to Paris and feeling that way ALL the time. I would have to get used to the smell, the smoking, the attitudes, and the language (which is quite beautiful in itself); but I think I could do that. The beauty in Paris truly outweighs the negative parts.

There is still so much to see and do in London and I have it all planned out, I just hope I can get it all done.


Alyssa: Another Week in London and Paris Tomorrow

June 18, 2009

As a means of blatant procrastination from my homework, I felt the need to write a blog entry. The last week was a blur, as were the previous weeks. On Monday I worked at my internship and spent the day finishing up and presenting my ideas for the company’s identity, then set to work on a website. It’s a ton of work, and I’m almost positive everyone else’s internships are much more low-key. That is completely fine with me however, I absolutely love the position I’m in.

The other day I had a conversation with one of my supervisors about international design. It was such an eye-opening experience! I had always thought good design, is good design, well that’s only partially true. Different cultures value design elements and principles very differently than the West and this is evident in their design preferences. I was so excited from the conversation I went to tell my roommates about it and was met with blank stares and boredom, I guess this subject is only interesting if you’re a designer, anyway I loved it!

Tuesday, Anna and I went out for a lovely English evening. We met up on Fleet Street for a dinner consisting of meat pies (beef, not human like Sweeny Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street) and mash with vegetables. Then we crossed the river Thames to the Globe Theatre to see As You Like It. It was hilarious and so, so, so, so, good! As with Romeo and Juliet, we stood on the floor as groundlings and almost got stepped on by the actors a few times. It was an amazing day, I was exhausted by the end but that’s somewhat of a theme for me here.

I am headed to Paris tomorrow! It is such an opportunity to be in Europe, let alone getting the chance to travel a bit. I’ll be there for the weekend and am going to try and see as much as possible. I’ve made a list and it seems feasible, however I don’t speak any French, so we’ll see. Anna speaks a little so we aren’t totally lost (well, she won’t be totally lost).

I should really get to this homework, I have about five papers to write for my internship class that are due next week. I just don’t understand the point of the class. I’m already learning so much from my work in my internship. All we talk about in the class are business practices that one should already know if he or she has EVER worked in a job before. I think it’s designed for students with internships where they don’t really do anything, like imputing data or making tea. I, however, am constantly busy and these assignments are mind-numbingly frustrating. I just have to suck-it-up and do it because ultimately my grades transfer and therefore affect my GPA.

Wow, my posts just keep getting longer and longer, just so much to say!


Alyssa: Two Countries, Liverpool, and Canterbury

June 16, 2009

It’s been so long since I have blogged, it’s terrible! I’ve just been so busy with my internship (which is awesome!), classes (which are not, well except for the field trips), and traveling.

Over the last, wow I guess three weeks, I’ve been to Dublin, Ireland, Liverpool, and Canterbury! I’m absolutely exhausted, but I don’t care, it’s all so exciting and, most of the time, surreal. (All my pictures are uploaded on Flick’r so feel free to take a look.)

Dublin was beautiful, well not the weather… rain, wind, and about 40 degrees, but everything else was! St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Book of Kells, St. Stephen’s Green, so pretty, and…very green. I know, I know it’s Ireland, but you never really expect it to be that green! Seeing the Book of Kells was pretty much a religious experience. The letterforms alone were worth the 6 Euro to get in.

That next weekend I traveled to Liverpool by myself and had the entire day completely packed with things I wanted to do. I left my flat at 4am and got on my train around 5:30 a.m., then at 9:30 a.m. I went a tour of John and Paul’s homes, I even got to go inside! (I started to cry a few times in John’s house, that’s how crazy it was being there!) Then, I went to the Tate Liverpool to see the Colour Chart exhibit. It was really really neat. There were Andy Warhol pieces and even the real color studies I studied from a book freshman year.

After that, I went on the Magical Mystery Tour (yes, that’s actually what it’s called). We toured the city of Liverpool, stopping at all the Beatles landmarks like Strawberry Field, Penny Lane, Sgt. Pepper’s Bistro, and the “barber showing photographs” while listening to Beatles songs.

Later I went to the Cavern Club and The Grapes and pretended to be a Beatle. I jumped on stage at the Cavern Club because I just had to do it. I also found the statue of Eleanor Rigby and hung out with her awhile, she was so lonely.

Saturday, I went to Canterbury with one of my roommates and we toured the Canterbury Cathedral, which was incredible! Every time you would make a turn you would enter a whole different section even more grand than the first! We spent an hour or two just sitting by a lake enjoying the day. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and there was a castle in our view, couldn’t get much better than that.


Ben: A rough beginning…

June 7, 2009

I am sitting in the Houston airport, literally in a state of shock. So much has happened in the last couple of days that my head is spinning. It is still going to be 24 hours before I reach the place I will call home for 3 months… and although it has only been 6 hours since I was dropped off at the airport, the effect is staggering.

I suppose I should preface this entire entry by saying that I am still looking forward to my adventure. On the flight from Minneapolis to Houston there was a small Mexican boy in the row next to me, and I loved listening to him speak. Some words I understood, some I didn’t, but I kept thinking about how different it would in three months. How different I would be in three months.

But now, aimless, killing time in an airport, those three months seem like an eternity. Even the next 24 hours seem daunting. I miss Jess. There is no other way to put it. Saying goodbye to her was difficult, and as the time slowly ticks by I ache to be able to talk to her. We have been best friends for a long time, but when did it become something so much more? When did we go from just doing everything together to needing to be with each other through everything that we do?

Sitting here, I still half expect to look over and see her coming out of the airport bathroom smiling at me. After all, I am traveling, and I always travel with Jess. One of us watches the bags while the other goes to the bathroom. We talk about our expectations of the upcoming trip, or we talk about the experiences we just had. Can it be less than a year ago that we were in Russia? I believe that I am experiencing the old adage… “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Who knew that it also hurt?

As I mentioned, a lot has happened in the last couple of days. I found out on three days ago that there was not going to be school representative to help me through the Caracas airport, or to help me get from El Vigia to Mérida. El Vigia is the town I will be flying into. It is about an hour away from Mérida, and I will need to take a taxi or a bus. I also found out that, unlike students that went down earlier this summer, I will not be going to the school to meet my homestay family. Instead, I will need to go directly to their home, knock on the door, and when they answer, introduce myself. This may not seem all that difficult while you are reading this, except I failed to mention… on Wednesday I still did not have my homestay address. Does that make it sound more exciting? Nor did I have their address on Thursday. In fact, it was Friday afternoon before I actually got the address. But I have it now, and I am looking forward to meeting them.

Interruption: I mentioned that this trip was still a bit surreal, but as I was writing this blog entry I was paged in the Houston airport. After finding a courtesy phone I contacted the switchboard and they relayed a message to me from Jess… I forgot the camera. It was still sitting on the bed along with the small Flip video camera, and maybe I should buy a new one before I leave the States. Wow.

Well, I did manage to get a camera, and I was able to call Jess from a payphone. Then we decided that we would try skype and I was able to hear her voice. It made things a little better, and a little worse. If I could hop on a plane and head home right now I would.

I am boarding for Caracas in about 10 minutes. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little better.


Alyssa: Class, to work, to play… with no breaks

May 30, 2009

Thursday was a total whirlwind! It started out with a tour of Southwest London with my Pop-Culture class where we began in Covent Garden and walked and walked and walked all over learning about little shops with unique histories. It was really interesting to hear about the hippie and punk subcultures. I had no idea the hippies were so prevalent in London. Our teacher was walking really really quickly but I managed to keep up.

Immediately after class, I hopped on the tube to my internship. My class had gotten dismissed a bit early so I ended up getting to Connaught about an hour early. This was perfect considering the project one of my supervisors had planned for me.

I had not even set down my heavy bag when I heard, “I’ve got a project for you,” which of course got me immediately excited. He hands me five vials of face cream and gives me the task of creating packaging with a magnetic closure that suggests high-end quality while still appropriate if one, two, or all five vials are packaged. He also gave me a box of their current packaging as a starting point.

I began brainstorming solutions to the problem and sketching out ideas. After coming up with about six I called my supervisor over to get his opinion. He selected two options, one holding the vials with ribbon, the other a sort of Roman arch/toe separator design.

We then drove to a small design shop to pick up supplies for the mock-ups. I went to get into the car and completely went to the other side of the vehicle. He simply said with a laugh, “That’s my side,” which queued me to get in on the other. It was a bit unnerving essentially being in the driver’s seat with no steering wheel on the wrong side of the road. Then he said, “Just don’t scream when you see cars coming at you.” I appreciated the heads up as I was pretty freaked out.

Once we got back with the supplies I set to work. I had two hours to mock-up both options. I was so worried I wouldn’t get done. After creating the boxes I had to create the holders. I managed to get everything done just in time to head to the tube for the play we had planned to go to.

On my way to the tube station—with the huge bag and computer—I tried to contact one of my roommates to see how to get to the theater. My phone froze and I was left to just wing it. Once I got off the tube at Covent Garden, I wandered around until finally asking directions. The directions I got were terrible; however, she did tell me I was going in the complete opposite direction. By some incredible chance, or miracle, I happened to turn to my left to see the theater two blocks down the street. Even more interesting my phone decided to unfreeze! I was able to contact my roommate and get in on time.

The show was great! We saw Spring Awakening, which looked at the relationships and boundaries between parents and children and its influence on sex and love. It was incredible and fascinating to see the juxtaposition of rock ‘n’ roll music set to Victorian prose. If you ever get a chance to go see it—GO, you will not be disappointed. I laughed and cried even though that is so cliché to say.


Alyssa: First full week in London

May 27, 2009
Sunday was beautiful so we decided to go out to Hyde Park and wander around. Unfortunately, we missed Speaker’s corner, but we have plans to go this weekend. It was a gorgeous day and the park was the perfect idea. We then walked around Kensington High Street and peeked into Harvey Nicholswith its elaborate shop windows, and Harrod’s, two world famous department stores.

Monday was a bank holiday which meant virtually everything is closed (even the banks!). We made a run to our sponsor school to drop off some paper work then went through our internship commutes again just to be sure we knew what we were doing for our internship interviews the next day. Once we got home we all just spent the evening relaxing and prepping for questions we could be asked. I reworked my resume and internship samples just in case he wanted to see them.

Tuesday was my internship “interview” and by interview I mean first day of work. I walked in all ready to sell my work and my work ethic when I was surprised to see my work station all ready prepared for me. My site instructor introduced himself and immediately set me to work. It was so exciting to see how things work in the UK from a designer’s standpoint. I also had my first cup of English tea—which was amazing!
Wednesday consisted of more work within my internship (which I did not want to leave) and classes. My first class is called Post-War British Pop Culture and is really interesting with almost every class consisting of a field trip to somewhere significant in London. The instructor is pretty eclectic too which is entertaining.

Alyssa: First Thursday and Friday in London

May 23, 2009

The last few days have absolutely flown by. The first Thursday and Friday in London were a bit crazy but really created interesting opportunities to experience the city.

It began with a mini-tour of London in search of our internship sites. Riding the tube is an experience within itself. It’s a bustling fast-paced environment and requires you to go with the flow and not to stand on the wrong side. Keeping to the left of the walkways was quite difficult and felt extremely awkward. Throughout the day we were able to navigate the tube system and find all of our internships. The last stop brought us to Oxford Street, a hugs shopping street in London. It was so crowed it was a struggle to stay together. Once we got home from grocery shopping that night we decided to explore the local pubs in our neighborhood.
Orientations filled most of the day Friday. These orientations; however were a waste of time. Most of the information they gave us we had already discovered the day before on the tube. Then, for our internship orientation, the information was so generic it was not much help.In between orientations we wandered around looking for some place to eat. We came up on this quaint little French restaurant where I had the most amazing French grilled cheese. (I have yet to each any English food however).

After our second orientation, we headed home to get ready for the CAPA sponsored arrival party. Most of the food was gone by the time we finally got there but decided to hang around anyway. After that we headed Leicester Square and got to experience a bit of London’s club scene. The Zoo Bar was insane, strobe lights were flashing over a completely packed dance floor. We managed to get into the bar for 2.50 pounds instead of 10 pounds. It was really exciting and was opened really late. Once we left the Zoo bar we wandered into a few more pubs before heading home. We found our way to the bus stop and had no luck trying to figure our how to get home by bus, so we ended up catching a cab for 20 pounds… I video taped the ride home from the Piccadilly Circus all the way back to Kilburn.
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